"Star Spangled" ACPC Convention 2013 - Baltimore, Maryland

by Peter J. Obst

Board ACPC

Singing of the National Anthems (l. to r.) Deputy Chief of the Polish Diplomatic Mission in Washington Maciej Pisarski; singer Laura Kafka; Baltimore City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young; City Council member James Kraft; ACPC president Deborah "Debbie" Majka;

This year's American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) convention commenced on Wednesday July 31 as members started arriving at the Sheraton Hotel in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Located near the city's Camden Yards Baseball Park the hotel placed us in the heart of a lively convention and entertainment district for which the city has become famous. The meeting was held under the auspices of the Polish American Arts Association of Washington DC with support from the Polish Heritage Association of Maryland and the National Katyn Memorial Foundation.

The convention started in earnest on Thursday morning after Fr. Philip Majka offered up the invocation and Laura Kafka led the singing of national anthems. Then Tom Payne, president of the Polish American Arts Association of Washington DC, greeted the assembly and introduced Bernard C. "Jack" Young Baltimore City Council President who welcomed the conventioneers to the city. Also speaking were Maciej Pisarski Deputy Chief of the Polish Diplomatic Mission, and local councilman James Kraft.

The lunchtime speaker was James Conroyd Martin author of "Push Not the River" which since had two follow-up books, turning into a "Trilogy" played out against real events of Polish history. The first book was concerned with the Polish Constitution, the second with the Napoleonic Wars, and the third "The Warsaw Conspiracy" with events of the 1830 revolt against Russian domination, also known as the "November Insurrection." In his excellent presentation Mr. Martin not only whetted the audience's appetite for his books but also told a no-less fascinating story of how the books came to be published and the travails of bringing them to interested readers. Those wishing to learn more about the books should check his website:

Later that day the group attended an exciting performance by soprano Sarah Kate Walston, winner of this year's competition for the Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Scholarship. On the eclectic program were selections by Mozart, Strauss, Szymanowski, Duke Ellington and a traditional American Spiritual. On conclusion singer received an enthusiastic round of applause.

On the following day after conclusion of the business meeting, the group boarded a bus to be transported to the Holy Rosary RC Church parish hall for lunch which was to be followed by a planned round of touring in the city and beyond. Because Senator Barbara Mikulski (slated to receive an award at the Saturday banquet) was unavailable on Saturday, she instead came to speak to us at the lunch. As we munched on Polish delicacies provided by the Polish Heritage Association of Maryland and the National Katyn Memorial Foundation and served by the diligent staff at the parish, the Senator spoke about her time growing up in Holy Rosary Parish and the subsequent political career that followed. It was a great privilege to listen to this very dynamic and impressive lady who shared the history of her entry into politics and Polish-American past with us. Afterward, she was presented with the ACPC Distinguished Service Award. Unfortunately by that time we were already running late. Touring was confined to a visit at the National Katyn Memorial created by Andrzej Pitynski and placed by the National Katyn Memorial Committee headed by Richard Poremski. On the way to Fort McHenry the bus did a drive-by of the Pulaski Monument in Paterson Park and the rest of the time was spent at the place where our national anthem was born and where the Star Spangled Banner waved over the brave defenders of the fort during the War of 1812.

On Saturday the elections were held to fill vacated seats on the executive committee and board. Elected were:

Camile Kopielski - president
Mary Ellen Tyszka - first vice-president
Tom Payne - second vice president
Gregory Biestek - treasurer
Marcia Lewandowski - recording secretary

Directors: Alicia Dudka, Wanda O'Brien-Trefil, Raymond Glembocki, Janet Ann Hedin, Bernadette Wiermanski, Peter J. Obst

A number of issues concerning the disposition of finances and programs were decided. Most important was the discussion of the National Conference for the Social Studies (NCSS) program headed by Cecile Glembocki and her husband Raymond. The ACPC will again take part in the program, this year in St. Louis, MO, Nov. 22-24. Cecile has obtained the cooperation of Rita Cosby who will present her book "Quiet Hero" at the NCSS. The convention was also informed that 29 new members joined the ACPC in Savannah GA who will, for the time being, comprise a committee whose purpose is to promote Casimir Pulaski and Polish culture in that city. On their agenda is a Pulaski Birthday celebration for Savannah in March that is being sponsored by Edward Pinkowski's Poles in America Foundation. In addition Peter Obst spoke on the subject of the National History Day Competition, where presentations of Polish subjects and themes often are awarded top prizes. This could be an opportunity for the ACPC to extend its educational mission.

It was announced that the next board meeting will take place in St. Louis, MO on Nov. 8-9. More information will be posted on the web page: The site for our next ACPC convention (2014) remains open.

The Convention concluded with the traditional awards banquet. Honored with the Founder's Award was Alicja Dutka. The Cultural Award was presented to conductor Piotr Gajewski for his work with the Baltimore Philharmonic and for promoting Polish classical music in general.

The Ojczyzna Dancers of Baltimore, under directorship of Dennis Klima, entertained the assembly with some spirited Polish folk dances from various regions of Poland. It should be noted that this group was nurtured by our dear departed Irena Mirecka.

So ended the 65th Annual "Star Spangled" Convention of the American Council for Polish Culture. Members went home energized, ready to carry on their separate missions in promoting Polish culture and history in their own parts of the United States.

Convention ACPC

1. After the Marcella Sembrich-Kochanska Concert - (l. to r.) Debbie Majka, accompanist Joy Schrier, Jaroslaw Golembiowski, Wanda O'Brien-Trefil, soprano Sarah Kate Walston; Robert Synakowski, Alicia Dutka

Board ACPC

2. Cecilia Glembocki makes presentation on the National Conference for Social Studies

Board ACPC

3. (l. to r.) Marcia Lewandowski, Camille Kopielski;standing Raymond Glembocki; Tom Payne; Deborah Majka; Mary Ellen Tyszka; Gregory Biestek

Board ACPC

4. (l. to r.) Debbie Majka presents award to Senator Marbara Mikulski

Board ACPC

5. Group Picture at the Baltimore Katyn Memorial

Board ACPC

6. At the banquet ( r.) standing Ted Mirecki, Brian Trefil, Sharon Brzostowski, Edward Pawlowski;
(sitting) Raymond and Cecilia Glembocki, Wanda O'Brien-Trefil

Board ACPC

7. ( r.) Founders Award recipient Alicia Dutka, Camille Kopielski

Board ACPC

8. ( r.) Mary Ellen Tyszka, Cultural Award recipient conductor Piotr Gajewski, Debbie Majka

Board ACPC

9. OJCZYZNA Dancers entertain at the Convention

Board ACPC

10. OJCZYZNA Dancers entertain at the Convention

Board ACPC

11. (l. to r.) Incoming ACPC president Camille Kopielski, Peter Obst, outgoing president Debbie Majka